Rev. Lowell Nelson
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Bellevue
Happy New Year!
Ok, we are a month away from celebrating New Year's Eve but we start the New Year of our church calendar this first weekend in December. I love how each New Year of the church we begin with four spiritual building blocks of Advent, the start of something new, including:
•Hope is more than a private longing for something different. Christian hope is a keen community anticipation “right here, right now” that the new Kingdom of God is coming to us. We celebrate Christ's birth as the first coming of the Lord and we give thanks our future is not simply projecting how things are currently working into the future. No, our future is an amazing in-breaking of God's reign of love in Christ. Now, that's hope!
•Peace is such a beautiful word, which we can use in a variety of ways. The “Peace” that means the cessation of violence in a world marred by destruction, the “Peace” of God's loving presence that passes all rational understanding, and the “Peace” that means shalom or what we often now call wellness, a total health and healing we so desperately long for.
•Joy is so much more than being happy! Joy surpasses happiness by expressing the intimate experience of sensing God's presence in all circumstances, far beyond external circumstances or personal predilection shaping our being happy or unhappy.
•We conclude with our final Advent spiritual building block by celebrating God's love for all creation. The beautiful song, “Love Divine, All Love Excelling” grandly describes the amazing gift of love in Christ. The Beatles sang a portion of the truth when they sang, “All you need is love” but we proclaim the whole truth, “God's love in Christ is all we need!”